By now you’re probably inundated with news about working from home. Everyone (Including us) has advice on what to do if you’re suddenly working from home, or how you can save the world by using webcams. But here is a little thing that will take some of the misery out of your circumstances.
Yes, we want you to use webcams, and for years we’ve been giving you all kinds of business ROI and scientific research to support that. Many of you have ignored us and continue to resist, but whatever. Here’s a seemingly little detail, but it’s maybe one of the most important reasons to suck it up and hit your video button: using webcams makes us happy.
Don’t believe me? For weeks I’ve been noticing what happens when my face shows up on people’s screens. The darndest thing happens: They smile without even thinking about it. I do the same thing. It’s a natural, human reaction to seeing another face. We grin. Humans crave human contact, and when it’s initiated, it’s almost always an uplifting experience.
How much do you smile when you work from home? Probably not a lot. But our natural caveman-born response to a friendly face is to smile back. You almost can’t help it. And if you’re used to having a lot of people around you all the time, being isolated can be depressing and stressful. Seeing the face of that co-worker you usually sit across from can help you feel connected and, yes, even a bit less miserable.
Take advantage of your webcams as much as possible, especially in one-on-one conversations. I know all the objections, but stick with me:
Your coworkers don’t care what your hair looks like.
They aren’t exactly runway-ready either.
Yeah, bandwidth can be sketchy. Use it anyway.
Sometimes people complain that the screen freezes or the audio isn’t in sync with the picture. Big deal. It’s that moment when you see the person we’re trying to capture. If you’re having a bad internet day, then choose to turn them off depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
It’s okay if your kids run into the room.
In fact, in times like this we need to be connected on a more human level than ever. Yes, if it’s a high stakes strategy meeting, or you have customers on the line you want to defend your turf, but nine times out of ten when your toddler pops up on camera the response will be, “Hi Casey.” The more we know each other’s personal circumstances, the more forgiving and empathetic we are.
The dog or cat are part of your work from home team.
People who don’t work from home are awfully concerned about animals. If you’re on a conference call and the dog barks or the cat jumps onto your lap, they’ll comment like they’ve never seen one before. People who work from home a lot are far more casual. Usually the only comment is “what’s your baby’s name?” Unless there’s a deal on the line, quit stressing and enjoy the moment.
It feels like we are being stripped of our normal work interaction. The ways we get things done are changing literally every day. It’s no wonder the ability to see familiar faces, relate to them as more than just cogs in a machine, and coo over babies and dogs (and webcams don’t transmit allergens!) the happier we are.
Use your webcams as often as possible. For more ideas about how to work effectively from home check out all the resources we have for you on our COVID-19 website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.